The Ministry of Education Thursday vowed to crack down on the soaring cheating problem on college entrance exams and is working with provincial authorities to investigate the cheating scam in Songyuan, Jilin province.
"We have jointly kicked off the investigation with police and the discipline inspection department," Zhao Shukuan, the deputy chief of the Jilin provincial enrolling office, told China Daily Thursday.
"It's still too early to say if the educational scam has influenced the fairness of Jilin's college entrance examination this year," he said. "The investigation targets only individual cases."
Authorities earlier said that eight gangs in the Jilin province, including one in Songyuan, were broken up after members were caught selling cheating devices to students just before the national exam, which began on June 7.
Police had detained two teachers who tried to sell 27 cheating devices, including receivers, earphones, chargers and batteries, to parents of students on the night of June 4.
According to criminal law, the two teachers face imprisonment of up to three years, but their actions would not be a crime if the students did not actually use the cheating devices, the police spokesman said earlier.
At least 29 students were caught cheating in the national college entrance exam in Songyuan, including 23 students who were caught with the illegal devices on June 8, the second day of the examination. Another six students were caught asking other people to take the test on their behalf.
The China Youth Daily reported Thursday that more cheating scams were uncovered in exam venues in cities and counties other than Songyuan.
In many exam venues, some students with cheating devices were able to continue taking their exam after examinees took their devices away, the report said.
The students who were found cheating on the national test will be placed on a blacklist and deprived of the qualification to attend the exam this year as well as next year.
But they could still have a chance to take the exam by waiting for the next round, according to the Ministry of Education.
Lao Kaisheng, an educational expert with Beijing Normal University, said the cheating phenomenon has increased in recent years, violating the fairness principle. "The unfair phenomenon needs thorough rectifying because so many people today would kill for one place in college," he said.
What is particularly disturbing is that an increasing number of people think cheating is not a big deal, he said. Those students who cheat might grow up to be a criminal official or businessman if not punished, he said.
The country needs an examination law to regulate the exam process, monitor students, parents and exam organizers, and create more strict punishments, he said.
The Ministry of Education has recently submitted a draft examination law to the Legal Affairs Office of the State Council, according to the ministry.
Lu Jianping, a law professor with Renmin University of China, said cheating was soaring due to more exam organizers becoming involved.
"Cheating has become more organized, with some illegal groups running the business for profit," he said.
Liu also said the students' strong pursuit for higher education is the reason students and parents take the risk of cheating.
More than 10.2 million students sat for the exam this year and about 60 percent will get into a university, due to the expansion of China's higher education system.